- Devil Said Bang #4
- Author: Richard Kadrey
- Performed by MacLeod Andrews
- Published: Brilliance Audio
- Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
Getting out of Hell is just the beginning.
What do you do after you’ve escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer?
Well, if you’re James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it . . . again. Plus there’s the small matter of surviving. Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James Stark.
Stark, still tucked away in Pandemonium in his role as Lucifer, finds himself totally bored with admin work, dealing with Hellions and trying to sort out the chaos that is Hell so he is almost relieved when he’s on the receiving end of assassination attempts. At least it livens things up a bit and he can forget about court politics. Hell is just a lot of administration and red tape with infighting thrown into the mix.
Welcome to Hell. It’s just like high school but with more boredom and entrails.
After telling Candy when he left he would only be a few days but has now actually been stuck in Hell for months, Stark is absolutely ready to go home. And, of course, when he gets there via Hellion Hawg, LA is in big trouble. Reality has taken a nose dive and a killer ghost along with Aelita are causing havoc while the Dreamers are doing their best to hold reality together. Stark and St James have parted company so Stark no longer has the key to the room of thirteen doors but he returns from Hell in Lucifer’s armour and with a new and fascinating weapon.
Stark, still trying to save the world, is his usual coarse, snarky, irreverent and entertaining anti-hero self. All the fantastic characters from previous stories are back and I love who gets to be the permanent Lucifer.
The writing is dark and witty, the full on action plot does get a little convoluted at times but is still deliciously gratifying with lots of outrageous and exaggerated violence and everything that makes a Sandman Slim novel.
James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.
The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.
A great opening chapter has Stark, Candy and Samael in Donut Universe while Candy updates Stark and Samael’s Wikipedia pages. Stark and his angel half have reunited, he is back to being a nephilim and again has the Key to the Room of Thirteen Doors.
Stark is in a race to find the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon greater than any other, before the old gods, namely the Angra Om Ya who existed before anything else, can take back and destroy the universe. Aleita has hidden it somewhere and Stark needs to find it before she can do her worst. Which requires a trip to Kill City, a creepy, abandoned shopping mall.
The world building is described in intricate detail and the dialogue and banter between the characters is superb. The violent action is way over the top and there’s a serious eww factor as Stark acquires more scars. Some surprise plot developments too.
I love the growth of Stark’s character and how he gets a little introspective in this story.
Most nights I still dream about Hell. I can feel it inside me. It’s in the stink of my sweat. Flashing on the place even for a second makes me furious and sometimes afraid and sometimes ashamed of both those things.
On the plus side, I got up close and personal with the killer inside me. I learned I was good at taking lives. Doc Kinski called me a natural-born killer, so now it’s what I do. But I don’t always like it, and when I do, I don’t always like myself for liking it. That’s what Hell is. It’s the shithole bottom of the universe, but it’s a place where you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know.
This is gritty urban fantasy at it’s darkest. Richard Kadrey’s off the wall sense of humour and amazingly imaginative writing, not to mention the unique take on Heaven and Hell and their residents, make this series one of my favourites. The cast of characters, some new and others returning from previous books, is as bizarre and outlandish as ever.
Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city.
As the Apocalypse draws ever nearer and the non stop rain in LA has driven most of the population away, Stark is working to prevent the Old Gods, the Angra Om Ya, from finding the means to destroy the world and everyone on it. Add to that a serial killer running riot, and given to extremely gory tendencies with body parts, who turns out to be a very unexpected blast from the past.
You’d think the end of the world would be exciting, but this apocalypse is about as much fun as dental surgery.
Take the current situation. Sitting at a dead stop in traffic, as lively as a stone angel over a tomb. Not one car has moved in ten minutes. It’s bumper to bumper on Sunset Boulevard, which is nothing new, but this kind of traffic is 24/7 these days, as it seems like half the city is hightailing it out of Dodge all at once. And the rain. It’s been coming down non-stop for two weeks. It’s like L.A. lost a bet with God and the old bastard is pissing his Happy Hour whiskey all over the city. Which, when you get down to it, isn’t far from the truth. This isn’t how I figured I’d ring in the apocalypse.
MacLeod Andrews’ performance is superb, I love his characterisation of Stark, and the way he handles all the other utterly diverse characters with their own individual ‘voices’ is perfect.